Baseball goes 1-1 in weekday action

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Senior pitcher George Faue delivers a pitch Tuesday in the Huskies’ 10-7 home win against Valparaiso. 

James Krause

DeKALB — The baseball team split its final pair of non-conference games before hosting the final home series of the year this weekend.

The Huskies held off a comeback from the Valparaiso University Crusaders Tuesday to win 10-7 but couldn’t hold the Illinois State University Redbirds, or the weather, in a 7-6 loss Wednesday that was stopped after seven innings because of thunderstorms.

The team’s record now moves to 16-29 on the year, with a 5-13 record in the Mid-American Conference.

Tuesday — Huskies 10, Crusaders 7

Senior pitcher George Faue started for the Huskies and kept Valparaiso in check early, pitching six scoreless innings while striking out five. Faue picked up his first win of the season.

“It felt great,” Faue said. “I haven’t had the season I was hoping for this year, but it felt good to get that one under the belt, and hopefully, we keep rolling with that.”

The Huskies got ahead early with two runs in the first, scoring RBIs for sophomore infielder Tommy Szczasny and redshirt freshman outfielder Kam Smith.

The Huskies picked up two more runs in the fifth inning before exploding in the sixth with six runs. Senior infielder Samuel Vega, sophomore catcher Jake Dunham and Szczasny all received RBIs for singles.

Smith doubled to add two more runs before a wild pitch scored the final run of the inning to put the Huskies up 10-0. Smith finished with a game-high of three RBIs.

The game was not competitive until the Crusaders scored seven runs in the eighth inning.

The Huskies gave up a pair of two run singles to cut their lead in half. A two-run double put the score at 10-7 to finish the eighth.

Redshirt senior Andrew Frankenreider picked up the save for the Huskies, striking out all three batters he faced in the bottom of the ninth to prevent the Valparaiso comeback.

Frankenreider said he didn’t feel any pressure facing a team that found their stride late in the ball game.

“I just tried to stay as calm as possible,” Frankenreider said. “I’ve been closing since my sophomore year, so I’m used to coming in during some high pressure situations.”

Wednesday — Redbirds 7, Huskies 6

The game went under a delay in the first inning for lightning in the area, sending both teams to the locker rooms. After nearly an hour, players returned to the field to resume play.

A bases-loaded single by the Redbirds put Illinois State up 2-0 in the second. In the third, Vega singled to bring in a run, and Dunham singled to bring in two runs, putting the Huskies up 3-2.

After another two runs by the Redbirds in the top of the fourth, the Huskies took advantage of fielding mistakes to score another three runs and took a 6-4 lead.

Redshirt junior infielder Ty Jandrowski brought in a run on a fielder’s choice, while Vega and senior outfielder Scooter Bynum scored on an error.

With thunderstorms coming, the Redbirds regained the lead as junior infielder Owen Miller led off the seventh inning with a solo home run. Miller finished the game with four RBIs.

The Redbirds tied the game off an error by Szczasny and immediately followed up with a sacrifice fly by sophomore outfielder Jordan Libman to give them the 7-6 lead.

Following the next half inning, umpires called the game to an end because of thunder in the area. Head Coach Mike Kunigonis said the team’s defensive struggles led to its loss, not the weather.

“It is what it is with the rain,” Kunigonis said. “We had opportunities. We didn’t play enough defense, and we didn’t pitch well enough today to get a win.”

The Huskies will host the University of Toledo Rockets for a three-game series. The series opener will be 3 p.m. Friday in DeKalb at Ralph McKinzie Field in DeKalb.